It’s too soon to tell how much of an impact the short-lived career of DC’s Dismemberment Plan will have on the trajectory of indie rock in the long run, but in the meantime, there’s certainly a handful of bands that follow directly in their wake. Get Him Eat Him is one of them, and though it’s easy to draw the connection based simply on the D-Plan’s Jason Caddell producing Arms Down, it’s painted all over their music as well. Both bands specialize in deliberate musical complexity — quick rhythmic changeups, jumpy guitar playing, and loose dissonances are everything.
The difference is that the Dismemberment Plan was born of a record collector’s brain, while Get Him Eat Him was born of a rock critic’s. Frontman Matt LeMay is a longtime Pitchfork contributor, from which you can tell a few things: one, that he’s well-versed in 1990s indie rock; two, that he’s got some pretty lofty ideas as to what good music should sound like; and three, that he could probably use someone to tell him when to pull back from time to time. Given those first two, it should be clear that there is indeed a solid record here. Aside from paying tribute to the Dismemberment Plan, it’s easy to hear (and to read online, for that matter) how much LeMay appreciates the musicality of bands like Chavez and Trail of Dead, not to mention the pop sensibility of bands like the Exploding Hearts and the Shins. His record feels like a distillation of those different elements — a totally self-conscious approach, but one that’s usually successful.
The only drawback is that nicking techniques from such challenging bands leads to an even more challenging result. Some of Arms Down is too busy for its own good — opener ‘2x2’ is about two minutes long and cycles through close to a dozen different riffs, replete with a horn section, a vocoder and a noisy bridge. It’s a great song, but it takes a few listens to unpack. The rest of the record follows suit: it’s crowded and intensive listening, but that’s the point.